Explains how Japan's rapid industrial growth has influenced the way of life in the country and has affected the international political and economic position of the country. Suggests that Japan turned to industrialization to support a rapidly growing population on a small and relatively poor land area. Deneen shot the aerial shots himself alone, while piloting a single-engine aircfraft, pointing the camera out the window.
As an extra, Deneen appears on-camera in a 3:53 non-distributed film, describing the significance of his three-part series on Japan, of which this film is one.
Wilford B. Wolf
May 31, 2008
The second in a trilogy of Encyclopedia Brittanica films focusing on Japan. During the early 1960s, there was a renewed interest in Japan, and this film was made, as stated in the intro, to help update American perceptions of the country.
For the most part, the film is successful, giving a reasonable portrait of Japan of the early 1960s. The footage is excellent, filled with some really great aerials of Tokyo, early Shinkansen (Bullet Train), and the streets of Ginza.
But, it can't quite get away from the trope that has dominated many films on Japan, even up to today; the exotica of traditional Japan. While the primary focus of the film was how the Japanese economy was able to grow in the postwar period, emphasizing such industries like steel and electronics, it is implied that traditional Japanese amusements like bunraku or kabuki were still everyday entertainments. A giant platter of sushi for a modest middle class family is portrayed as a "modest meal of rice, fish and vegetables," when even today that's an extraordinary occasion.
Another trope that becomes obvious is how "Isn't it wonderful that Japan is a democracy and capitalist and not communist?" (Even though, most scholars question the degree how democratic Japan was at the time.) Similarly, a more Westernized youth that were coming to the fore in the 1960s and protests against the US were only hinted at obliquely.
Nevertheless, for the time frame, one of the better visual documentations of Japan by the West.